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As much as we love the rush and buzz of a big city cafe, we here at Sprudge find ourselves hopelessly drawn to the romantic narrative of small-town specialty coffee. And so join us today as we journey to Whiting, Indiana—population 4,814—a town on Lake Michigan just two miles from Chicago city limits, yet a world away.

As told to Sprudge by Danny Falloon.

The 2021 edition of Build-Outs is presented by Fellow. The series is sponsored by La Marzocco, Pacific Barista Series, Marco Beverage Systems, Dona, and Sustainable Harvest.

For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?

Botz Coffee was born out of a love for coffee roasting, video games, and an endearing nickname my sister has been calling me since childhood. After honing my skills across the U.S., I returned to my hometown to start a micro-roastery focused on buying green coffee in small quantities and delivering a fresh, thoughtful menu. My goal is to imbue each batch of coffee with a different character, so whether you’re experiencing a warm sense of nostalgia or a playful new flavor combination, you’re excited to greet the Botz bag for your morning brew.

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Can you tell us a bit about the new space?

The new Botz Roasting Lab and Weekend Tasting room is located at 1908 Clark Street in Whiting, IN, a charming town on the shores of Lake Michigan famous for pirogies, and fingers crossed, one day, specialty coffee. Much like Botz’s robot mascot, our building is small, square, and in turn, quite lovable. The space mainly serves as a mini (but mighty) production space, and it also includes brewing equipment with an eye to opening a weekend tasting room, which will serve batch brew, cold brew, and pour-overs. Since I grew up in coffee roasting as a co-ro kid, my goal is to also offer roasting classes to help locals understand the process, as it seems, in my opinion, fairly inaccessible to others.

What’s your approach to coffee?

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I try not to overhype my role in purchasing coffee, since I’m relying a lot on credible and reputable partners I’ve met over the years that work hard to create a system where producers are treated and paid transparently and fairly. In the future, I hope to have the ability and volume to forge new relationships and commit to coffees year after year.

I buy coffees via the Marie Kondo method—they need to spark personal memories and joy for me (they are, coincidentally, always very tasty and generally high scoring). Some coffee buyers might call this a bit cliché, but Botz is unabashedly earnest and nostalgic. We have found that this approach to curation leads to a deeply personal and thoughtful menu. In our unique twist on coffee descriptions, for example, we try to tell a story, pique curiosity, and connect directly with our customers, who we lovingly call Botzonians.

Roasting-wise, I focus on sweetness, fruity zings, and resonating finishes—I really want that coffee to linger because that’s my favorite part of drinking coffee.

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Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

For batchie, I have a CBS-2041e Extractor Series from FETCO with the old-school spray plate (RIP) in combination with a Ditting 804 Lab Sweet.

Coffees are sample roasted on an Ikawa V3 and production roasted on my tricked-out Buckeye BC-5. I cup all coffees on my childhood kitchen table, which I refurbished with Botz pink paint.

While I view all my coffees as special, occasionally there is a mind-bender with exceptional quality that gets released in the Botz VHS series, which is 5oz of coffee sent out in a personally designed holographic VHS tape box, exploding with coffee geekiness and imagery. “The Legend of Finca Nuguo” by José Manuel Gallardo Méndez was the last release.

How is your project considering sustainability?

We compost the coffee grounds from the weekend tasting room, and I’m mindful of consolidating all my green coffee shipments to minimize my carbon footprint. I’m also very conscious about energy usage within the Botz HQ itself (water and other natural resources).

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What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?

I’m really hoping to open the first week of July!

Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?

I would be at a complete loss without my sister, Elena Falloon, a lawyer by profession, but a true hype-master at heart. She picked out beautiful artwork to be displayed within the space, each with a thoughtful story attached to Botz’s origins. Lastly, I’d like to thank my best friend Max Kilibarda of Waypost Creative for his constant support and next-level photography.

Thank you!

Thank you, Sprudge!

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Botz Coffee is located at 1908 Clark Street, Whiting. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photos by Max Kilibarda/@waypostcreative

The 2021 season of Build-Outs is presented by Fellow. The series is sponsored by La Marzocco, Pacific Barista Series, Marco Beverage Systems, Dona, and Sustainable Harvest.